Century of Survival: An American Icon

Essay by Tjcj2University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2007

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When companies come face-to-face with downturns of their business, they tend to do everything in their means to turn things around either with sales, or organizational behavioral changes. Not all are successful in making the turn, but one company comes to mind that did, Harley-Davidson (H-D), a company depicting a century of survival in all aspects of the business from production of motorcycles, sales, and organizational changes. When the struggle to survive surfaced, H-D was optimistic and made the changes necessary to escalate moral and recapture the American dream.

History of Harley-Davidson

With the first production model rolling out in 1903, William Harley and Arthur Davidson unknowingly started what is considered today as a legend in motorcycles. Deemed a racing bike in its beginning, H-D went on to win many races, setting the company's motorcycle as a winner in American eyes. The US government at the end of World War I supposedly used more than half of the company's production, or 20,000 motorcycles.

By 1920, H-D was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles over 100 competitors, selling over 27,000 motorcycles a year (Bronson &a Beaver, 2005), and at the end of World War II, H-D had produced and estimated 90,000 motorcycles for the US government alone. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, H-D and Indian brand bikes were the only two American motorcycle companies to survive.

From its beginning until present time, H-D has gone through multiple changes in its organization. The company is considered a survivor in the eyes of those that believe in its product because the organization was well run, and was getting bigger and stronger as the years went by. Nevertheless, as with many companies in America, H-D was no exception to hard times. During the 1960's, H-D found itself in turmoil as its products...